Livingston manager David Hopkin lambasted referee Mat Northcroft’s decision to award Queen of the South a penalty during Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Palmerston – a result that consigned the Lions to the relegation play-offs.
The loss, coupled with Dumbarton’s victory at home to St Mirren, means Hopkin’s men will now have to overcome League 1 opposition to preserve their Championship status.
Despite Sam Stanton giving Livi a first-half lead, Northcroft afforded the home side a route back into the game from the penalty spot with Derek Lyle converting.
Lyle then grabbed his second of the afternoon before former Hearts striker Gary Oliver completed the comeback.
Hopkin described the decision to penalise Jackson Longridge for the contact on Iain Russell as “embarrassing”.
“It was an unbelievable decision to give them a penalty, it was actually frightening. If you give penalties for that, it’s embarrassing but I suppose I need to be careful with what I say,” Hopkin said. “It’s another lead we have taken but I felt we found it tough. It was always going to be a difficult game coming down here.
“But we need to make sure we see the season out and then we’ve got to be prepared for the play-offs next Wednesday. These are the big matches that are going to define our season.”
Marc McCallum produced an early stop to deny Lyle from a teasing Jordan Marshall cross and then Russell struck the post when it seemed easier to score.
But clever link-up play between front-pairing Jordan White and Liam Buchanan paved the way for Stanton to fire the visitors into the lead with a crisp half-volley from 12 yards.
Charlie Telfer wasn’t too far away with a shot from 20 yards after Buchanan’s run had been brought to a halt.
Lyle drew the hosts level on the hour mark from 12 yards after Longridge was harshly penalised and things got worse for Livi as Mark Millar’s corner was then headed in by striker Lyle with 20 minutes to play.
Dale Hilson struck the crossbar twice before Oliver added a third with a close-range finish. The Doonhamers were, however, forced to play out the final six minutes after substitute Lewis Kidd was sent off for two bookable offences.
Queen of the South: Atkinson, Hooper (Kidd 56), Dowie, Higgins, Marshall, Oliver, Millar, Tapping, Russell (Harris 66), Hilson, Lyle (Jacobs 74). Subs: Thomson, Brownlie, Harris, Murdoch, Smith.
Livingston: McCallum, Kakay, Halkett, Neill, Longridge, Stanton, Fotheringham, Pittman (Mullen 77), White, Telfer (Sheerin 60), Buchanan. Subs: Jamieson, Gordon, Knox, Mullin, Currie.
Referee: Mat Northcroft.